Harlech Castle

Main gatehouse, Harlech Castle.

Harlech, north Wales. Maintained by CADW.

Construction started in May of 1283. The main castle construction was finished by 1289; the outer works were strengthened in 1295. Minor work on the approach was done in 1323-1324.

Built by King Edward I of England to consolidate his victory over the Welsh, Harlech is one of seventeen castles built or rebuilt for that purpose. Beseiged unsuccessfully during Madog ap Llywelyn's rising in 1294-95, Harlech was able to hold out because it could be resupplied by sea. After this seige, the fortifications protecting the sea approach were strengthened.

Harlech was beseiged and captured by Owain Glyndwr in 1404, during the Welsh uprising of the early 1400s. It may have been the location of Owain's crowning as Prince of Wales (it may have been Machynlleth). Harry of Monmouth (later Henry V of England) recaptured Harlech after a seige in 1408 or 1409. Harry's siege engines included some cannon, and there is evidence they were used at this time.

Harlech was again besieged during the Wars of the Roses. It was surrendered to the Yorkist forces led by William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, and Sir Richard Herbert of Coldbrook, in 1468. The song Men of Harlech is supposed to be connected with this siege. Harlech endured one final siege during the Civil War, surrendering on March 15, 1647. Harlech was the final Royalist stronghold, and its fall marks the end of the Civil War.